In Bogota

Iglesia de la Veracruz

Calle 16 No 7-19; h4:30-7:30pm Mon- Fri, Mass 8am, 11am, noon & 6pm Mon-Fri, noon & 6pm Sat, 11am, noon & 5pm Sun) Iglesia de la Veracruz is known as the National Pantheon because many of the heroes of the struggle for independence have been buried here.

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Iglesia de San Francisco Iglesia de San Francisco

www.templodesanfrancisco.com; cnr Av Jiménez & Carrera 7; h7am-7pm Mon-Fri, 7am-2pm & 4:30-7:30pm Sat & Sun) Built between 1557 and 1621, the Church of San Francisco, just west of the Gold Museum, is Bogotá’s oldest surviving church. Of particular interest is the extraordinary 17th-century gilded main altarpiece, which is Bogotá’s largest and most elaborate piece of art of its kind. It’s hard to get a close look, as Masses run nearly hourly all day. It’s less intrusive to look up at the green-and-gold Mudejar ornamentation of the ceiling under the organ loft.

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Iglesia La Tercera Iglesia La Tercera

Calle 16 No 7-54; h7am-6pm Mon-Fri, Mass 11am Sat, noon & 1pm Sun) Boasts a fine stone facade and lovely wood-carved altars in walnut and cedar set on white walls below a wood-carved ceiling.

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Mirador de la Torre Colpatria Mirador de la Torre Colpatria

Carrera 7 No 24-89; admission COP$3500; h6-9pm Fri, 11am-5pm Sat, Sun & holidays) Monserrate offers superb views, but only from the 48th-floor outside deck of the Colpatria Tower can you catch a superb view of the bullring, backed by office buildings and the mountains – there are also fine 360-degree vistas across the city. The 162mhigh skyscraper – Colombia’s tallest – was finished in 1979.

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Museo de Arte Moderno Museo de Arte Moderno

www.mambogota.com; Calle 24 No 6-00; adult /student COP$4000/2000; h10am-6pm Tue-Sat, noon-5pm Sun) Opened in the mid-1980s in a spacious hall designed by revered local architect Rogelio Salmona, the Museum of Modern Art focuses on various forms of visual arts (painting, sculpture, photography, video) from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. Exhibits change frequently, often highlighting Latin America artists. The cinema here screens films on weekends at 3pm and 5pm (COP$4000).

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Museo del Oro Museo del Oro

www.banrepcultural.org/museo-del-oro; Carrera 6 No 15-88; admission free Sun, COP$3000 Mon-Sat, audio guide COP$6000; h9am-6pm Tue-Sat, 10am-4pm Sun) Bogotá’s most famous museum and one of the most fascinating in all of South America, the recently renovated Gold Museum contains more than 55,000 pieces of gold and other materials from all the major pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia. All is laid out in logical, thematic rooms over three floors – with descriptions in Spanish and English. Second-floor exhibits break down findings by region, with descriptions of how pieces were used. There are lots of mixed animals in gold (eg jaguar/frog, man/eagle); and note how women figurines indicate how women of the Zenú in the pre-Columbian north surprisingly played more important roles in worship. The 3rd-floor ‘Offering’ room exhibits explain how gold was used in rituals, such asornate tunjos (gold offerings, usually figurines depicting a warrior) thrown into the Laguna de Guatavita , the most famous one, actually found near the town of Pasca in 1969, is the unlabeled gold boat, called the Balsa Muisca. It’s uncertain how old it is, as generally only gold pieces that include other materials can be carbon dated. There’s more to understanding the stories than the descriptions tell, so try taking a free one hour tour Tuesday through Saturday (in Spanish and English; 11am and 4pm), which varies the part of the museum to be highlighted. Audio guides are available in Spanish, English and French.

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